Wicked Ball Wants to Be Your Pet's Automated Companion
Tom Spendlove posted on April 18, 2019 |

The engineers and designers at Cheerble loved playing with their pets, but noticed that when the humans were gone the pets had separation anxiety. They developed the Wicked Ball to act as a companion and toy for dogs and cats when home alone. One important design consideration was the idea that living and thinking animals needed toys with a smart component to them. Expecting a dog or cat to be happy with a tennis ball for eight hours isn't realistic. The group is running a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign for their first round of production pieces.

Wicked Ball has two phases of operation. The Attraction phase sees the ball wiggle and shake to attract the pet's attention, and then once the pet taps the ball the Response phase begins. The response phase bounces or shakes when touched, with three different levels of vibration - gentle, normal and active. Intelligent Companion mode is the codename for the ball's activity algorithm. Ten minutes of activity is followed by thirty minutes of rest, but if an active pet hits the ball during the rest period the cycle will start again. The 3.7 Volt 300 milliAmp hour lithium polymer battery takes one hour to charge for up to eight hours of intelligent companion mode or around 110 minutes of constant use. The ball works without an app and beneath the thermoplastic polyurethane skin the polycarbonate cube base has a power switch and operation button. Modes are selected by pressing the operation button and each mode has a corresponding color. Inside the Wicked Ball are an ARM Cortex-MO processor and a high torque direct current motor. The unit is 77 millimeters in diameter and weighs 200 grams.

There's a one year old Bernese Mountain dog at my house, and the struggle to keep him entertained and our possessions out of his mouth is constant. The Wicked Ball looks like a tool that could help keep him entertained. The campaign page says that over 100 different breeds of dogs and cats helped to test the balls, but my true test of durability will be the amount chewing and biting the tpu shell can withstand. The extensive set of prototype components on display gives me hope for a long stretch of durability. The campaign has blown by its funding goal of $20,000 Australian dollars and ends on May 2, 2019.  










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